Well, it seems all of the winter sickly germs that have been circulating have finally caught up with me. At least I have the day off and can engage in guilty pleasure comfort television (Dexter, Sex & the City, anything on Food Network) and nosh on tomato soup and grilled cheese, right? On the bright side…
I may not be able to go to that brutal XI class at the Y this afternoon but I figured the least I could do was blog. I’d be sitting in bed anyway. In case you didn’t know, about 90% of my blog posts are composed in bed. At leas the coziness doesn’t interfere with my productiveness!
Firstly, I’d like to share the things I have been enjoying lately:
- The new Adele album, the new Decemberists album and this adorable cover and video, which is undoubtedly one of the most precious things I’ve ever seen.
- Our new Slow Cooker cookbook, which we’ve used as a recent guide for “Slow Cooker Sundays,” that we’ve instituted. It’s a wonderful cookbook and so far we’ve been very impressed. We made the juciest, Cuban pulled pork a couple weeks ago, cooked long and slow with Cuban spices, orange and lime zest and onions, which we ate with black beans and rice – delicious. Even better though, was the “Beef in Barolo” we made this past Sunday night. With amazingly just six ingredients, this dish was proof that sometimes less really is more – it was the perfect paradigm of simplicity at its finest. Just chuck roast, braised with onions, tomatoes, garlic, fresh rosemary (we used thyme), barolo wine (we used chianti). It was tender and incredibly flavorful – with warm Italian flavors just like those found in a solid ragu or bolognese. Buttermilk red skinned mashed potatoes and roasted cauliflower (with lemon juice, olive oil, chili flakes and a little parmesan) were excellent side dishes. Definitely a keeper.
- This cake. Oh my God. It’s simple and humble but homey and irresistible and it channels my mom’s “Mexican chocolate cake,” which is almost identical but has a touch of cinnamon in it (which I added to this recipe – just a teaspoon). It conjured up nice memories of home and my mom and I will post the recipe and picture soon.
Now, since I did promise a New England Summer Roadtrip food recap, I would be remiss if I failed to include it in this entry, since it is so long overdue anyway.
Part I: Philadelphia
In July of 2010, we loaded the car and headed north. I visited my friend Molly in Philadelphia for a couple days – she’s attending grad school at Temple University. It was a brief stay but so much fun and I can’t wait to visit her again!
Our first stop was brunch at a charming, culturally vibrant little local spot called Honey’s, located in the Northern Liberties neighborhood, just around the corner from Molly’s cute studio apartment. Honey’s is has Israeli-Southern-Mexican fare – a wildly creative ethnic fusion that was a delight to experience. Molly, a vegetarian, ordered her favorite – a frito bowl (with yes, fritos in it)! I couldn’t decide if I was in sweet or savory mode, but finally opted for savory and ordered a scrambled egg, onion, pepper, potato hash and a side of latkes. It was at Honey’s, that I had my first ever latke! It was crisp and full of pure potato flavor with sour cream on top – yummy!
Molly and I went to the mysterious Mutter Museum – something I had been wanting to check out for some time now – and who better to see it with than a friend who shares my morbid curiosity! I won’t talk about what we saw there, for those who are squeamish or weak at heart, but it was oddly fascinating, disturbing and awesome!
We went to Continental for “happy hour” – a sort of futuristic looking bar and restaurant that looks like a place you’d find in Vegas. We had a couple glasses of wine and huge mojitos for ridiculously cheap prices, before heading off to Chifa for dinner. Chifa is one of Molly’s favorite spots and after going there, I easily understand why. It’s a Peruvian-Chinese restaurant – who knew such a concept existed? It was sublimely delicious with an innovative, expansive menu. We started with cocktails – not to be missed, despite the steep prices, for they are certainly worth it. My cocktail had cachaca, yuzu, rosemary, blackberries and something else but it was one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had. Molly had a spicy margarita with tequila and thai chiles.
We shared an appetizer with corn and mushrooms and I forget what else but the main point is that it was wonderful. I had a pork belly bao bun (my first ever), with hoisin glaze, pickled daikon, carrot and togarashi mayo – YUM. The ambiance was modern Asian chic, with dim red lights and plush booths with colorful pillows. I highly recommend Chifa to anyone in Philadelphia.
Other Philly places I’d love to check out on the next trip include: The Franklin Fountain, Pharmacia, Betty’s Speakeasy, Cafe Estelle and Budakon.
800 North Fourth St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123
138 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19106
707 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19106
More to come soon, on Texas Sheet Cake, NYC and Maine restaurants!